According to a recent report, the Chicago Cubs have finally made their decision as it pertains to the upcoming MLB trade deadline: to sell.
“After years of mounting frustrations with their offense, and a predictable midseason crash on the pitching side, the Cubs have finally picked a lane, beginning the process of becoming sellers at the July 30 trade deadline, multiple sources told The Athletic,” wrote Ken Rosenthal and Patrick Mooney in a recent article.
On one hand, Chicago is wise to act with an eye on the future, as selling at the deadline will likely pay dividends down the road.
Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, Javier Baez and Zach Davies are all likely to be traded, and the Cubs will undoubtedly acquire a massive haul of young talent in return for all of their stars.
But on the other hand, the team’s 2021 season is effectively over, and so is the run with the current core.
That’s extremely tough to swallow for fans.
The Cubs’ deadline dilemma has been a debate for several months, and it still remains a hot topic even with the recent report detailing the team’s plans.
Today, we’re going to play devil’s advocate and go through a few of the reasons the Cubs are making the wrong choice.
3. The 2021 Season Is Now Over Because Of The Decision
Although it would have been an uphill battle, reaching the playoffs wouldn’t have been an impossible task for this Cubs team.
Chicago is currently eight games back of a Wild Card spot in the National League.
While the team likely would have needed to add at the deadline in order to make a legitimate playoff push, it’s still tough to see the Cubs punt on the season when the playoffs weren’t completely out of reach.
2. The Schedule Was Set To Lighten Up
Again: Making the playoffs would have been a tall task.
But if the Cubs were going to try, they would have had the benefit of an easy schedule on their side.
The team has played the ninth-toughest strength of schedule to this point, a factor that has certainly played into the difficult first half.
And here’s the kicker: Chicago has the easiest remaining schedule in all of baseball.
The Cubs would have been able to make up some serious ground in the Wild Card race by taking advantage of that in the second half.
1. By Trading Away Star Players As Rentals, The Cubs May Damage Their Chances At Re-Signing Those Players In The Offseason
It’s probably safe to assume that, regardless of whether the Cubs ended up buying or selling at the deadline, the organization was going to make a run at re-signing much of its current core in the offseason.
Bryant, Rizzo and Baez highlight the group of players whose deals expire at the end of the 2021 season.
It pains me to think about Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant & Javier Báez being in another uniform. 😔
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) July 9, 2021
Bryant, 29, is a four-time All-Star and a one-time MVP.
He is one of the best homegrown players in Cubs history, and he’s also a fan favorite.
Bryant is a career .279 hitter with an .885 OPS and 134 OPS+.
He averages 32 home runs and a WAR of 5.4 per 162 games.
The Cubs are indeed planning on being sellers this month, according to sources. Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel appear to be the most likely trade candidates, though others (Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez) could also be available. @Ken_Rosenthal and @PJ_Mooney were all over it.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 9, 2021
Rizzo, 31, is an outstanding all-around player.
He is a three-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glover, and a one-time Silver Slugger.
He’s a career .269 hitter with an .852 OPS and 128 OPS+.
He averages 29 home runs and a WAR of 4.4 per 162 games.
His production has dropped off slightly over the past year or two, but given his age, he likely still has plenty left in the tank.
Keep this in mind re: Cubs: Jed Hoyer stressed that "this is definitely not a rebuild." Bryant/Rizzo/Baez/Davies will all be free agents, while Kimbrel/Joc have 2022 options & Contreras one more year of arb. There was going to be turnover for 2022 whether they bought or sold.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 9, 2021
Baez, like Bryant, is a homegrown talent.
He was drafted by the Cubs in 2011.
He has accumulated a nice list of accolades in recent years, winning a Silver Slugger Award, a Gold Glove Award, and being named to two All-Star teams over the past three seasons.
He even finished second in the MVP race in 2018.
On the whole, Baez is only a slightly above-average hitter (he has a career OPS+ of 103), but he makes up for it on the defensive end by adding a ton of value in the infield.
The Cubs are likely to trade all of these players away, and by doing so, the club will hurts its chances at bringing them back in the offseason.
It’s a whole lot easier for players to consider re-signing with you in the offseason if you show some loyalty by not trading them away.